The BEST Carrot Cake!

This truly is the best carrot cake recipe!  It’s perfectly moist and delicious, made with lots of fresh carrots, and topped with the most heavenly cream cheese frosting.

The BEST Carrot Cake Recipe

Oh hey. ♡ Just thought I would casually slide this recipe right here at the top of your feed in time for Easter.  Because if you happen to be looking for the world’s best carrot cake recipe to make this weekend — or any delicious day of the year — look no further.  Hundreds and hundreds of our readers have agreed over the years that this homemade carrot cake recipe is a hands-down winner!

I mean, I should admit right off that I will forever-and-always be on Team Carrot when it comes to my favorite kind of cake, so I will always be extra-partial to carrot cake in any form (including cupcakes).  But because it’s my favorite, I hold extra high standards when it comes to exactly what constitutes the perfect slice.

First off, the perfect homemade carrot cake must always be fluffy and legit extra-moist — no dry cakes allowed.  It must also be made with the coziest warming spices, but just enough so that the flavor of all of those fresh carrots can shine through.  And speaking of fresh carrots, a good carrot cake recipe must include lots of them speckled in every slice.  Most importantly, though, a good carrot cake recipe must be accompanied with a rich and buttery cream cheese frosting in every single bite.  Because in my book, a good moist carrot cake with cream cheese frosting is the ultimate dessert match made in heaven.

The other good news about this recipe?  It’s much easier to make than it looks.  You can make the entire recipe — both cake and frosting — 100% by hand if you would like.  (No mixer required.)  You can also save yourself a step and purchase store-bought grated carrots or grate them in the food processor, if you don’t want to grate them by hand.  And if you’ve never made a three-layer cake before, have no fear — it’s easier than it looks, and I’ve added a brand new video below to walk you through each step of the way.

Alright, let’s make some carrot cake together!

The BEST Carrot Cake Recipe | 1-Minute Video

The BEST Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Homemade Carrot Cake Ingredients:

Alright, let’s make our shopping list!  To make this homemade carrot cake recipe, you will need:

  • Oil: Any mild-flavored oil will do.  I typically use avocado oil, but vegetable or canola oil would work too.
  • Sugars: Both granulated (white) and brown sugar.
  • Eggs and vanilla extract: Because…cake.
  • Flour: I always indulge here with classic all-purpose flour.  But you’re welcome to sub in white whole wheat flour instead.
  • Spices: Ground cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
  • Baking soda and baking powder: This recipe uses both.
  • Salt: I used fine sea salt.  If you only have iodized (table) salt, I would recommend using a little less.
  • Freshly-grated carrots: Either grate them by hand with a box grater, use the shredding attachment on a food processor, or save yourself a step and buy them pre-grated.
  • (Optional add-ins): Feel free to also include chopped nuts (such as pecans or walnuts), shredded coconut, and/or raisins if you would like.
  • Cream cheese frosting: Made easily with cream cheese, butter, salt, vanilla and powdered sugar.

How To Make Carrot Cake

How To Make Carrot Cake:

To make this homemade carrot cake recipe, simply:

  1. Prep your baking pans. Grease and flour three 8-inch round baking pans.  (Or save yourself a step and just use baking spray, which already includes flour.)
  2. Make the cake batter.  Mix together the oil and sugars, followed by the eggs and vanilla, then the dry ingredients, and then the shredded carrots.
  3. Fill and bake.  Portion the batter evenly into your three baking pans.  Bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cakes comes out clean.  Remove the cakes from the oven and let them cool on a wire baking rack until they reach room temperature.  Meanwhile…
  4. Make the frosting.  See notes below.
  5. Assemble and frost the cake.  Once the cakes reach room temperature,* use a cake leveler or a bread knife to slice off the rounded tops of the cakes so that they are completely flat on top.  Place the first cake on your serving platter, add a large scoop of frosting on top of it, and spread the frosting so that it covers the cake evenly and extends a bit over the edges.  Repeat with the second and third layers of the cake.  Then use the remainder of the frosting to frost all around the side edges of the cake.
  6. Serve and enjoy.  Then once you’re ready to serve the cake, slice it up and enjoy!

*I find that it’s easier to frost the cakes when they are slightly chilled.  So I recommend popping them in the fridge for 15 minutes before frosting if you have the time.

Homemade Carrot Cake Recipe

How To Make Cream Cheese Frosting:

This dreamy cream cheese frosting recipe can either be made by hand in a mixing bowl or in a stand mixer — you choose!  Just be sure that both the cream cheese and butter are both room temperature.  (And if you want your frosting to be super-smooth, I also recommend sifting the powdered sugar in advance.)

To make cream cheese frosting, simply stir the cream cheese and butter together with the vanilla until completely smooth.  Then add in however much powdered sugar you need to reach your desired consistency — about six cups, more or less.

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Carrot Cake Variations:

If you would like to customize your carrot cake, feel free to:

  • Add nuts: Feel free to stir 1/2 cup chopped nuts (such as pecans, walnuts, pepitas or hazelnuts) into the batter, and/or sprinkle extras on top of the frosting.
  • Add raisins: You could also stir in up to 1/4 cup of raisins.
  • Add coconut: Or up to 1/4 cup of toasted shredded coconut.
  • Spice the frosting: If you would like a bit of extra flavor in the frosting itself, I recommend stirring 1-2 teaspoons ground cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger into the frosting.
  • Make the recipe gluten-free and vegan: Use this recipe!

The Best Homemade Carrot Cake Recipe

More Carrot Recipes:

Looking for more delicious sweet carrot recipes?  Here are a few of my faves! ♡

Print
The BEST Carrot Cake Recipe
4.8 from 118 reviews

The BEST Carrot Cake

  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 60 minutes
  • Yield: 16 servings 1x

Description

This classic carrot cake recipe is moist, perfectly-spiced and made with lots of fresh carrots and a cream cheese frosting.


Scale

Ingredients

Carrot Cake Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cupplus 2 tablespoons avocado oil (or vegetable oil, or any mild-flavored oil)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 pound finely-grated* fresh carrots
  • optional: 1 cup chopped nuts or 1/2 cup raisins

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:

  • 3 (8-ounce) bricks cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 6 cups powdered sugar (or more, if needed to thicken)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease and flour three 8-inch round baking pans.  (Or to save a step, you can coat them with baking spray, which already contains flour.)
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together oil, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until combined and smooth. Add in the eggs and vanilla, and whisk until smooth.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining dry ingredients (flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, baking powder, nutmeg and cloves) until combined. Gradually add the dry ingredient mixture into the egg mixture, and stir until smooth. Fold in the grated carrots and stir until combined. If you would like to add nuts and/or raisins, stir them in at this time as well.
  4. Portion the batter evenly into the prepared baking pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cupcakes comes out clean.  Transfer the baking pans to a wire cooling rack and let the cakes cool until they reach room temperature.
  5. Meanwhile, to make the cream cheese frosting, combine the cream cheese, butter and vanilla in a large mixing bowl and stir until combined and smooth.  (You can either do this with a spatula, or with a hand or stand mixer.)  Gradually stir in the powdered sugar and mix until it is completely combined.  Feel free to add more/less powdered sugar to achieve your desired consistency.
  6. Once the cakes reach room temperature,* use a cake leveler or a bread knife to slice off the rounded tops of the cakes so that they are completely flat on top.  Place the first cake on your serving platter, add a large scoop of frosting on top of it, and spread the frosting so that it covers the cake evenly and extends a bit over the edges.  Repeat with the second and third layers of the cake.  Then use the remainder of the frosting to frost all around the side edges of the cake.
  7. Once you’re ready to serve the cake, slice it up and enjoy!  Or cover and refrigerate for up to 4 days.

Notes

*You can either grate fresh carrots by hand with a box grater, or grate them with a food processor by using the shredding disk.

*I find that it’s easier to frost the cakes when they are slightly chilled.  So I recommend popping them in the fridge for 15 minutes before frosting if you have the time.

Recipe instructions updated (with no ingredient changes) in April 2019.

This post contains affiliate links.

The BEST Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

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1,051 comments on “The BEST Carrot Cake!”

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  1. Looking to make this cake for my grandfathers birthday. Would it still taste good if I make it the night before and serve it the next evening? Thanks! 

  2. I love your carrot cake recipe. I just made it and it’s delicious. Thanks for sharing

  3. Silly question – Should I peel the carrots before grating them, 94 just wash them?  Thanks!

  4. Hi, I’ve made this cake twice now and eone loves it so thank you so much for such a delicious recipe!!:)
    Will the Philadelphia icing last 2 days if I do it tomorrow and cake is needed for a birthday for Sat?
    Do I refrigerate it or just pop it in a tin?
    Any advice will be awesome!
    Thank you!!
    Kitsty

    • Hi Kristy! We’re so glad it’s been a hit with folks! As for the icing, yes, you can definitely make it in advance and it will store great in the fridge (just be sure to take it out an hour or two before you want to ice the cake, so it’s spreadable). We hope this helps!

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  6. What kind of flour shall i use??will it be cake or all purpose flour?tnx

  7. This cake is FANTASTIC!!!!!! I made this for my husband for his birthday and he loved it!!! I have 9inch cake pans so I made it in 2 layers.  I was a little nervous because the baking time was a bit longer, closer to 50 minutes.  Because it was longer I worried about the cake becoming dry, so I boiled 2 cups of water with one cup of sugar for 3 minutes, let it cool, then poked holes in each layer of cake and applied the sugar mixture with a pastry bush.  I then immediately frosted it.  (Oh! I also wrapped each layer tightly in plastic wrap, once cool enough to handle, and put them in the refrigerator after baking to hold in the moisture!) I then refrigerated the cake until the next day.  It was moist and delicious!!!! I also added 1 cup of walnuts and a half cup of raisins.  This cake rivals any restaurant cake we have ever had for sure!!!! Thank you for posting!!!! 

  8. The first time I made this recipe, I was just really craving some carrot cake. It was delicious! I baked one for my friends birthday and she loved it so much I made her another and her family of three ate it in just a few days. The fourth time was for my dad’s birthday and he and his wife loved it as well! All I have ever gotten was amazingly positive feedback from this recipe and today I made my 5th one for my boss (Boss’s day is the 17th!).

  9. Is it possible to make this in a bundt pan?

    • Hi Morgan! As long as your bundt pan is big enough (it should be able to hold about 15 cups of batter), then this should be fine. You may have a bit of batter left over (be careful not to overfill the bundt pan), but if that’s the case, you could always bake a few cupcakes as well. :) We hope this helps!

  10. I followed the ingredients precisely to the gram. I used hand blender. The cake was simply awesome, amazing, delicious. We finished it all in under 30 min! Thank u. 

  11. Can you sub coconut oil for vegetable oil? I am making this today…

    • Hi Rachel! We’re sorry for just now getting to your comment. Yes, you an definitely use coconut oil instead of vegetable oil. We hope you enjoy!

  12. This is the best carrot cake I have ever made! 

  13. Cake is really good. I used 2 9inch pans and, as suggested, half of the icing recipe. However, next time I make this cake I may do the entire icing recipe even if I end up not using all of it. 2 people that tried the cake loved it and said the cake by itself was very moist and surprisingly light for a carrot cake, but “almost” lacked sugar (a positive for them).
    Also, I added 1/2 cup golden raisins but no nuts; but next time I think I will also add some walnuts. Thanks for such a great recipe.

    • Thanks for sharing with us, Regine — we’re happy you and your friends enjoyed this. And the golden raisins sound lovely, good call! :)

  14. Hi! the recipe looks delicious and the comments are convincing. please help me out here i want to make half of the recipe so everything should be reduced to half or just a few of the ingredients?

    • Hi Joanna! If you want to cut the recipe in half, you’ll need to cut each ingredient amount in half. We hope you enjoy!

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  16. Can this be cooked in a tube pan or bunt pan, and how long should it be baked? This would make a great take a long either way.

    • Hi Susan! As far as trying this in a bundt pan, as long as your bundt pan is big enough (it should be able to hold about 15 cups of batter), then this should be fine. You may have a bit of batter left over (be careful not to overfill the bundt pan), but if that’s the case, you could always bake a few cupcakes as well. :) We hope this helps!

  17. will this recipe hold fondant?

    • Unfortunately we haven’t tried adding fondant to this before, so we can’t say for sure!

  18. As every one cup of flour can be drastically different, how did you measure yours for this recipe? Did you spoon and level or scoop from the container? Also, would this recipe work in two 9 or 10 inch pans rather than the three 8 inch?

    • Hi Berin — good question! We spoon and level. And yes, you could use 2 9-inch pans for this. We hope you enjoy! :)

  19. Bonjour, Ali je cherché une recette de carrot cake par un grand hasard je suis tomber sur le votre il ma l’air tout simplement délicieux ;) je l’ai fait dans un moule normal de 20 de diamètre et 5 cm de hauteur heureusement que j’ai mis du papier cuisson tout au tour a l’interrieur avec 15 cm de plus sinon il aurait débordait je me retrouve avec un carrot cake de 15 cm de hauteur il est juste trop beau c’est surtout au niveau cuisson que j’ai un peu peur, Je pense que je vais faire un glaçage mascarpone ce qui va adoucir encore plus le gâteau. merci pour ce partage je vous en donnerez des nouvelles si ma petite famille a aimé .

    • Salut Carlouchka! Merci de partager avec nous et de donner la recette d’essayer. S’il vous plaît, faites-nous savoir comment il s’est avéré – nous espérons que votre famille a apprécié (et nous pensons que le givrage mascarpone sonne merveilleux)! À votre santé! :)

  20. Hi, I’m so sorry Im sure this has probably been asked, but can I use Self Raising flour in the recipe? and what would I need to adjust if I did? Thanks so much, really looking forward to trying this recipe out.

    • Hi Katrina! We think you would be fine to use self-rising flour in this — just omit the baking powder and the salt in the recipe. We hope you enjoy!

  21. I made this last year for my husbands birthday. Never made one before…OMG!!! So delicious and moist!!!! Making it again this year,  it is now a tradition. You won’t be sorry! 

  22. Unfortunately,  recipe wasn’t a winner for my family. Cake,  rather than being super moist and airy, cake was pretty dense. For whatever reason,  frosting wouldn’t thicken up. 

  23. How long of a cooking time if using 9″ pans would you suggest? Thank you!

  24. I made this cake for a colleague of mine. It was so tasty!! I took the leftover tops from leveling and mixed it up with leftover icing…also a hit. Thanks for the recipe!!

  25. Do you think this recipe will make enough to do a 13×9 pan or should I double? 

    Thank you!!

    • Hi Alisha! We’re pretty sure this makes way too much batter for just one 9×13 pan. We would actually either cut the recipe in half or use two 9×13 pans. Alternatively, you could always use one 9×13 pan and make cupcakes with the leftover batter. We hope this helps, and that you enjoy! :)

  26. I’ve been tasked with making carrot cake cupcakes for my family’s Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. Have you done this recipe as cupcakes before? Any suggestions or would it all be pretty much the same, just adjusted baking time?

    • Hi Amanda! We’re sorry we weren’t able to get to your comment in time. If you want to make cupcakes out of the recipe, you’ll definitely need to cut it in half (even cutting it in half will probably make more than 24). We’d suggest setting the timer for 10 minutes (though these might need 15 minutes or longer) — just keep an eye on them and test for doneness with a toothpick. We hope this helps!

  27. This is one huge cake!!(At least it was when I made it. There was so much frosting that I had to split my 2 layers in half!)
    Tasted DELICIOUS on Thanksgiving!

  28. Am I able to bake the layers today (Friday) and freeze them wrapped until the start of next week (Tuesday) and then frost them? Will it taste the same as a freshly baked cake? I think your recipe is fantastic and don’t want to alter the experience. Thanks!

  29. i want to try the cake without the frosting… i want to try it just like a carrot bar… will it be okay?

    • We haven’t tried this without the frosting, but we think it would still be delicious! :)

  30. I love to bake Cakes. I took after my Grandmother and have been doing them for years now. I just followed this Recipe to T and made it for a Family Member. It came out terrible!!! It was dry and tasted like cardboard. Im so shame.

    • We’re very sorry to hear that, Meka! This should never be dry or taste like cardboard and we’ve never seen anyone who’s had that as their experience. It sounds like it got overbbaked and that some of the ingredient measurements might have been off.

  31. Hi! I love this cake! Its my go to carrot cake… I was wondering if you have every added rum to it..and if so..what and how much for the liquids did you substitute to keep the same texture?

    • We’re so glad to hear that, Salome! :) We have not experimented with adding any rum to this, though we bet that would be yummy! If you wanted to add some rum to it, you could do 1 TBS and then just omit the vanilla, OR (depending on how much of a rum flavor you’d like), you could leave out the 2 TBS of oil, and use rum instead. We hope this helps!

  32. Made this for my sons birthday party and it was a huge hit. Everyone loved it!! Best carrot cake for sure!

  33. I followed your recipe and I’m not sure what I did wrong. The cake tatste a little bit salty. The cream cheese icing was great 

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  37. Hello ! Your cake looks amazing and the comments have tempted me even more.Will be making this for my daughter’s birthday ,can you pls let me know if I can substitute the oil with butter ? Thank you !

    • Thank you, Sheema — we hope you and your daughter enjoy! :) And yes, you can use butter instead of oil (use the same amount, unsalted and melted, and just let it cool some before you add it to the batter).

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  39. Made this one today…used a 9×13 pan and it was a bit too much batter…should’ve read further down the comments about that. Edges got a little overdone due to the extra cooking time but it seems to be ok…smells great- nicely spiced. 

    • Oh no! Yes, this makes a ton of batter for just a 9×13 cake. We hope you still enjoyed it though!

  40. Made this last night for a friend’s birthday. It was a HUGE hit! Thanks for the recipe! Will be keeping it for the future.

  41. Hi! Just wondering if I could use a 10″ round pan instead of 9″, or if i should double the recipe. I don’t want the layers to be too thin. Thanks! 

  42. Hi! I’m confused about the oil – 1 1/2 cups (of what) plus oil? Is it butter? Or just a lot of oil? Many thanks!

  43. can this be made in a 9×13 pan?

    • Hi Ginger! We’re pretty sure this makes way too much batter for just one 9×13 pan. We would actually either cut the recipe in half or use two 9×13 pans. Alternatively, you could always use one 9×13 pan and make cupcakes with the leftover batter. We hope this helps, and that you enjoy! :)

  44. Love this recipe! I halved the recipe and it was perfect for a 6 x 2 3/4 in round pan with enough batter to make 4 extra muffins. I will be making the full recipe this weekend ..with a little more spice :)

  45. Do I buy one pound of whole carrots and then shred them, or more than a pound of carrots to yield one pound of shreds after accounting for weight lost due to loss of moisture during grating?

  46. Can I freeze these cakes, if so for how long. Can I ice the layers and freeze and do the outside frosting when I need the cakes.

    • Hi Naaz! Yes, you can definitely freeze these cake layers. We would recommend freezing them un-iced though, and then assembling when ready, if you can. We hope you enjoy!

  47. I made this 2 days ago and I am happy to say that this cake is the best carrot cake I’ve ever had. Better thank shop bought or boxed. Thanks so much for sharing this great recipe, I absolutely love carrot cake and my partner is the opposite he does not like carrot cakes at all but he tried it and he couldn’t get enough, he loved it and said it’s so good so thank you thank you thank you for this beautiful cake

  48. Hi
    I’m inspired to make this for my dads birthday but dont know about cup measurements Could you interpret into metric weights please?

    • Hi Sarah, here’s a great website for metric conversions: We hope you enjoy the cake!

  49. Just made this cake. My husband loves carrot cake & this was my first time making it. Thank you for the recipe!! It was easy for a first timer like me and it was delicious.

  50. Wow, just Wow!  I am a 1st time baker.  This was a simple recipe, yet tasted so complex. It was delicious!  My mom had asked me to find her a good carrot cake recipe. I stumbled onto this one. Her birthday was coming up so I decided to try and surprise her and make it.  The cake, the icing every part of this cake surprised me and most importantly my family. No one believed I baked it.  10 out of 10.  Thank you!

    • Thank you for your sweet words, Johnny — we’re so happy you and your family loved this, and we appreciate you giving the recipe a try! :)